Free throws became the thorn in the Chanticleers’ side Tuesday as the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball opened its season with a 75-74 loss to Campbell at the HTC Center.
“If we look back at the game, the biggest difference was the free throw line,” said CCU head coach Cliff Ellis. “We made half of our free throws. They made all of theirs. It was a one-point game. We can say a lot of things, but we missed too many free throws.”
Campbell was 15-of-15 from the free throw line, while the Chanticleers were 8-of-16.
From beginning to end, the game went back and forth. Neither team held a double-digit lead. The Chants' largest lead was nine while Campbell’s six-point lead with less than five minutes to go in the game was their largest of the game.
The Chanticleers had a nine-point lead with just over five minutes to go in the first half. And then Campbell went on a 21-9 run to close out the half to take a three-point lead going into the break.
“I thought that in the first half we had control of the game,” Ellis said. “We had Ebrima Dibba get into foul trouble and then they started to get transition buckets on us.”
Coastal had 13 turnovers throughout the game compared to Campbell’s nine. Campbell was able to score 18 points off of those 13 CCU turnovers.
The back-and-forth style of play continued throughout the second half and despite the Chanticleers trailing by six with just over five minutes to go, they were able to pull within a point of Campbell with 33.8 seconds left in the game.
The Chants decided not to foul and were able to grab the rebound off a Campbell miss only to see Ebrima Dibba’s half-court heave bounce off the backboard.
“I thought that they were going to get something up and we would have five or six seconds to go,” Ellis said. “I didn’t want to call a timeout because I didn’t want them to have time to adjust.”
While the loss is not the way the team wanted to start the season, senior guard Tyrell Gumbs-Frater said the team is remaining positive following the tough defeat.
“Coach told us to keep our heads up and focus on the next game,” said Gumbs-Frater. “We have 30 games and we can't let this one get us down. We have to improve from here.”
Gumbs-Frater finished the night with 21 points, going 4-for-7 from three-point range.
Another Chanticleer who showed out on opening night was Keishawn Brewton, a junior college transfer. Brewton led all scorers with 24 points.
“He’s a skilled guard coming out of Chipola Junior College,” Gumbs-Frater said. “He can do a lot of good things and make a lot of good plays. Any time he is on the floor, the defense can’t sleep on him because he’ll make them pay.”
The Chanticleers return to action this Friday as they take on Hampden-Sydney as part of a doubleheader with the women’s basketball team.
The Coastal women play game one of the doubleheader at 5 p.m. and the men’s team will follow at 7:30 p.m.